Human Nature

, 13:327

Sex differences in interest in infants across the lifespan

A biological adaptation for parenting?

DOI: 10.1007/s12110-002-1018-1

Cite this article as:
Maestripieri, D. & Pelka, S. Hum Nat (2002) 13: 327. doi:10.1007/s12110-002-1018-1


This study investigated sex differences in interest in infants among children, adolescents, young adults, and older individuals. Interest in infants was assessed with responses to images depicting animal and human infants versus adults, and with verbal responses to questionnaires. Clear sex differences, irrespective of age, emerged in all visual and verbal tests, with females being more interested in infants than males. Male interest in infants remained fairly stable across the four age groups, whereas female interest in infants was highest in childhood and adolescence and declined thereafter, particularly for the responses to visual stimuli. The observed developmental changes in female interest in infants are consistent with the hypothesis that they represent a biological adaptation for parenting.

Key words

Adaptation Development Interest in infants Prenatal hormones Sex differences Socialization 

Copyright information

© Springer 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Committee on Human DevelopmentThe University of ChicagoChicago